Illinois may be headed back indoors if the state is unable to control the coronavirus outbreak sweeping through nearly every corner.
Here’s what happened today in coronavirus-related news.
8:50 p.m. Illinois sets more records with 12,702 new COVID-19 cases; ‘Stay home as much as possible’
Coronavirus records kept falling in Illinois Thursday as public health officials announced 12,702 more people have tested positive while hospitals across the state remain packed with the most COVID-19 patients they’ve ever seen.
The latest cases — which set a record tally for the third straight day along with most other surging Midwest states — were detected among 100,617 tests, raising Illinois’ seven-day average testing positivity rate to 12.6%.
That suggests the virus is spreading twice as fast as it was less than three weeks ago, and almost four times as fast as it was at the beginning of October.
The Illinois Department of Public Health also announced 43 more deaths attributed to the virus, raising the state’s pandemic death toll to 10,477. The latest victims included 16 Chicago-area residents.
Wednesday’s death count of 145 was the highest in a day since the end of May.
On Wednesday night, 5,258 hospital beds across the state were taken up by COVID-19 patients, an increase of more than 200 patients from the previous night — which had already surpassed any of the worst days of the state’s first COVID-19 wave in the spring.
7:10 p.m. Home for the holidays? Facing ‘COVID storm,’ Pritzker says stay-at-home order ‘seems like where we are heading’
Gov. J.B. Pritzker warned that another statewide stay-at-home order could soon be on tap if Illinois’ exploding COVID-19 infection numbers keep smashing records as they did for a third straight day on Thursday with 12,702 new cases.
Facing a second coronavirus surge that’s already three times larger than the first one that hit Illinois in the spring, state public health officials are urging people to stay home as much as possible. Pritzker said he wouldn’t hesitate “to take more stringent action” if the latest “COVID storm” doesn’t ease up soon.
“If things don’t take a turn in the coming days, we will quickly reach the point when some form of a mandatory stay-at-home order is all that will be left,” to address the crisis, Pritzker said. “With every fiber of my being, I do not want us to get there, but right now, that seems like where we are heading.”
4:52 p.m. Number of people seeking unemployment benefits falls to lowest figure since March
WASHINGTON — The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment benefits fell last week to 709,000, a still-high level but the lowest figure since March and a further sign that the job market might be slowly healing.
Yet the improvement will be put at risk by the sharp resurgence in confirmed viral infections to an all-time high well above 120,000 a day. Cases are rising in 49 states, and deaths are increasing in 39. The nation has now recorded 240,000 virus-related deaths and 10.3 million confirmed infections.
As colder weather sets in and fear of the virus escalates, consumers may turn more cautious about traveling, shopping, dining out and visiting gyms, barber shops and retailers. Companies in many sectors could cut jobs or workers’ hours. In recent days, the virus’ resurgence has triggered tighter restrictions on businesses, mostly restaurants and bars, in a range of states, including Texas, New York, Maryland, and Oregon.
“The risk may be for more layoffs as coronavirus cases surge and some states impose restrictions on activity,” said Nancy Vanden Houten, an economist at the forecasting firm Oxford Economics.
Last week’s count of new applications for unemployment benefits was down from 757,000 the previous week, the Labor Department said Thursday. The still-elevated figure shows that eight months after the pandemic flattened the economy, many employers are still slashing jobs.
4:07 p.m. Liz, Dick Uihlein, Lake Forest mega-donors and COVID-19 skeptics test positive for coronavirus
WASHINGTON – Liz and Dick Uihlein, the Lake Forest couple who are mega-donor players in Illinois and national conservative and Republican politics who downplayed the impact of the COVID-19, have tested positive for the coronavirus, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported on Thursday.
The Uihlein’s founded Uline, the business products company with facilities in Lake County and just over the border in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin.
The paper reported that Liz Uihlein, “an outspoken critic of (Wisconsin) Gov. Tony Evers stay-at-home order earlier this year” had claimed the media has “overhyped” the pandemic.
The Journal-Sentinel said it obtained an e-mail Liz Uihlein sent to Uline workers on Wednesday stating, “Dick and I tested positive for COVID. After all these long months, I thought we’d never get it.” After mentioning that President Donald Trump got it, she added, “If we had not been around people with COVID, we would not have been tested.”
Her email said they would be out of the office until Nov. 19. The Liz Uihlein e-mail was first reported on Wednesday by the Lake Forest Patch.
3:21 p.m. Georgia secretary of state isolates after wife’s virus test
ATLANTA — After his wife tested positive for the coronavirus, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger plans to get tested and to quarantine just as the state is preparing for a hand tally of the presidential race, his office said.
1:39 p.m. Sheriff Dart warns second wave of COVID cases threatens efforts to contain virus inside jail
Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart Thursday warned that the recent surge in COVID-19 cases in the city and state could threaten his office’s efforts to bring the pandemic under control at the Cook County Jail.
“The jail is part of the community,” Dart said. “There are ... amazing people who work here that live in the community and come back and forth. Detainees who come into our custody come from the community.
“And so, if the community is not under control, if the community is not being serious about masks and social distancing and COVID is spreading, it will impact us negatively, there’s no two ways about it.”
12:45 p.m. Lightfoot issues stay-home ‘advisory,’ puts 10-person limit on social gatherings
Warning that up to 1,800 more Chicagoans could die by year’s end, Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Thursday issued a 30-day stay-at-home “advisory” and slapped a mandatory, 10-person lid on social gatherings to control a second surge of coronavirus cases that’s worse than the first.
Two weeks to the day before Thanksgiving, Lightfoot implored Chicagoans to shake off “COVID fatigue,” avoid unnecessary travel, order small turkeys and resist the temptation to open their homes to extended family.
“While this is tough — this whole year has been tough — you must cancel the normal Thanksgiving plans,” Lightfoot said Thursday.
“If we continue on the path we’re on and you, me and others don’t step up and do more ... we could see at least a thousand more Chicagoans die” by the end of this year, she added.
Both measures take effect at 6 a.m. Monday.
10:50 a.m. How Chicagoans plan to celebrate their COVID Thanksgiving: ‘very carefully, very graciously and very thankfully’
With Thanksgiving getting close, we asked Chicagoans: How do you plan on celebrating your COVID-19 Thanksgiving? Some answers have been condensed and lightly edited for clarity.
“Dad, stepmom and me (adult daughter) — we will Zoom with other family members and bring food to elderly grandparents. It’s not ideal, but we care about other people more than ourselves. Small sacrifices will create a bigger reward.” — Amy Brennan
“My immediate family of six only and watch some good old movies on Hallmark. It’s OK to have small gatherings. I think those are the best — less drama and less dishes to wash, less to clean up.” — Teresa Hernandez-Sanchez
“Same as always, gonna live my life without fear!” — Mike Barnes
8:50 a.m. Plastic waste problem ‘amplified’ by the pandemic: a Sun-Times/ABC 7 special report
As the coronavirus pandemic pushes people to get more takeout and delivery food, it’s also having another effect: putting at least a temporary halt to the progress of a proposal to reduce single-use plastics and entirely ban polystyrene foam — Styrofoam — at Chicago restaurants.
To get an idea of the impact of that and of how much plastic waste is created even by just one meal, the Chicago Sun-Times and ABC7 ordered a bunch of takeout and delivery food and had an outdoor, socially distanced picnic.
On our picnic blanket: pizza, chicken wings, salads, a cheeseburger and fries, Chinese food and burritos.
Some of it arrived in in compostable cardboard containers or easily recycled aluminum trays.
But there also was a lot of plastic.
And worse, in terms of the environment, some of the orders came nestled in polystyrene foam, commonly known by the trademarked name Styrofoam, which restaurants often use for takeout packaging and which isn’t recyclable.
Those single-use items will “probably last at least a century, maybe longer than a century,” according to Jennifer Dunn, director of research for the Northwestern-Argonne Institute of Science and Engineering, who assessed the pile of waste.
- Public health officials announced 12,657 new cases of the deadly respiratory disease Wednesday and another 145 deaths attributed to it — the state’s worst daily death toll in almost six months.
- Peter Giannikopoulos, one of the suitors vying for Tayshia Adams’ hand on the current season of ”The Bachelorette,” announced Tuesday that he had tested positive for COVID-19
Analysis & Commentary
8:04 a.m. Should I or should I not get tested for COVID-19?
I have not.
I have not taken.
I have not taken a COVID-19 test.
I don’t know why that feels like a shameful confession.
Maybe it’s because so, so many people have died worldwide from this pandemic — 1.28 million according to the “Our World in Data” website.
Or maybe what I’m really feeling is survivor’s guilt.
I am, after all, in a group considered high-risk for catching the virus.
I’m Black. I’m a senior citizen. I have a compromised immune system.